Levi’s Vintage Clothing Hot Rod Launch at Ace Cafe London

Last night (March 6), Levi’s Vintage Clothing and Ace Cafe hosted the launch of a special exhibition that pays tribute to the early days of the hot rod.

To announce the the launch of Levi’s Vintage Clothing’s latest Hot Rod collection, the tribute brand has created a unique installation establishing Levi’s heritage in the 1950s Hot Rod culture. The four elements — 35 sweatshirts customized by Von Franco, a film by Aaron Rose, a tribute to hot rodding pioneer Norm Grabowski, and the Fender + Levi’s custom guitar — will travel the globe together.

This LVC team has already been busy touring the exhibition across the States, beginning at Rin Tinaka’s Inspiration show in LA, which was shortly followed by a brief stop at Brooklyn Denim in New York. During this time, the brand also hosted a small launch in their hometown Amsterdam, with the Hot Rod Banner event at the world famous Tenue de Nîmes Elandsgracht store.

The Ace Cafe in London marks the latest stop of the tour. The location has been a notable venue for the motorcycle culture since the 50s, becoming an institution for British bikers and custom car fanatics, as well as a hot spot for mod, rockabilly and rocker groups. Its weekly Wednesday Hot Rod night offered the perfect setting to the launch and truly brought the collection to life. Outside, guests could marvel over the custom rides in the packed parking lot, while inside local DJs set the tone for the evening, playing a hot rod soundtrack to a denim-heavy crowd.

The main feature of the exhibition was the exciting collaboration LVC created with the legendary Von Franco to create 35 one-of-a-kind “Kustom Monster Sweatshirts.” Inspired by legends like Von Dutch, Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, Newt, and Stanley Mouse, these weird and wonderful “Monster” artworks have become synonymous with the the visual culture of the sport. Each one of the crew sweatshirts has been individually airbrushed by the master himself and will tour with the rest of the exhibition across Berlin at 14OZ and Japan. The tops are documented in a limited-edition catalog, so be sure to look out for them if the exhibition is stopping near you

The second part of the exhibition was a tribute to Norman Grabowski, one of the most influencial hot rod builders of the 1950s. Having sadly passed away last October at the age of 79, LVC celebrates his legacy with a tribute exhibition of photographs and publications that showcase his lasting impact on American culture.

Sitting alongside this was a short film that Levi’s had produced in collaboration with LA-based filmmaker and curator, Aaron Rose. The film narrates the story of hot rod culture from its origins in 1950s Southern California. Rose pulled from hundreds of hours of archival footage ranging from old “juvenile delinquent” movies and Life Magazine drag-race films to home movies unearthed from personal collections. The result is a striking fast-paced film that captures the style and attitude of the uniquely American post-war subculture which continues to influence the worlds of fashion, music, and technology today. You can watch the film below: 

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